‘Company Culture’ – It’s True, It Can Be An Intangible Asset, If…

Michael D. Moberly    November 14, 2008

I am quite confident that devoting time and resources to developing an enduring ‘company culture’ in which employees, business units, and c-suites collectively recognize, respect, and are committed to not only building (adding) intangible assets to a company, but also, contributing to sustaining their control, use, ownership, and value, can deliver returns.

An organizational culture, according to Dr. Edgar Schein, consists of three progressive stages:

1. Shared assumptions that employee’s learn while solving problems, which, if those assumptions work well enough…

2. Employees will eventually consider them valid and worthy of being taught – passed along to new employees, because…

3. They represent the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to addressing (internal, external) problems that are routinely faced…

So, why is an intangible asset focused ‘company culture’ important now?  First, its because as much as 75+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and sustainability lie in – are directly linked to intangible assets.  Second, deliberately instilling an ‘intangible asset focused company culture’ becomes a good vehicle to raise enterprise wide awareness about important (quite possibly, the real) sources of internal company value.  Third, a ‘company culture’ can serve as a catalyst for internalizing strategies and incentives to begin monetizing the business – economic reality that there’s been a permanent shift in the primary sources of company value, revenue, and sustainability, that is, from tangible (phyiscal) assets to intangible assets!

Designing a ‘company culture’ that’s focused on intangible assets involves determining:

1. What attitudes and beliefs need to be established (internally) that lend themselves to identifying and sustaining control, use, ownership, and value, and

2. How those attitudes and beliefs will be translated and ultimately manifest themselves in employee, business unit, and c-suite behavior, i.e., consistent procedures, policies, and (best) practices relative to the stewardship, management, and oversight of intangibles…

Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier point out that a ‘good corporate culture is comprised of 20% equipment, and 80% people’.  That said, its important to recognize that the best practices, policies, procedures, regulations, and standards, cannot compensate for apathy or conceptual dismissiveness about identifying, using, leveraging, and extracting value from intangibles!

As pointed out by Dr. Kenan Jarboe in his Athena Alliance monograph ‘Intangible Asset Monetization: The Promise and the Reality’, there are six factors considered by financial markets, and presumably ‘buyers and sellers’ as well, with respect to determining the ‘suitability’ of an an asset, one of which is ‘transferability’.  In other words, is a ‘company’s culture’ so specific to that company, industry, and/or location that it can’t be replicated or ‘sustained’ through a market change or significant economic downturn?


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